One of our readers, DaMama7, wrote a response to Sleepless that really touched my heart in so many ways.
“How do I tolerate his small efforts? How do I let him touch me without cringing inside? How do I open up and then act like nothing happened? I am learning how to navigate and learning so slowly how to distance myself or really my heart; but what an unnatural thing to have to learn to do.” DaMama7
DaMama7, if I’d found my blog when I was back in time, I’m not sure what I would have done differently, but at least I would have felt less crazy and alone.
My experience with my truly passive aggressive husband is that while he wants what he wants, he doesn’t want to have to listen to me. I almost laugh writing that. It’s much as you described, and so many times in the past years he’s asked, and then fallen asleep after I poured my heart out. If that was shown in a fast reel loop in a film, it would be dark comedy.
I want to respond to your questions, and I hope that you really do begin to gain the ground that will keep you from further loss in the future.
My first best counsel is to take care of you. Cultivate a mindfulness about what you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Be aware of what you can actually do to care for yourself, and then don’t talk yourself out of it (easy to do as a mother!). This is the most important thing. Work at learning to love yourself and know yourself. Healthy self care is absolutely critical to a relatively happy and peaceful life. I wasn’t taught that, and it’s been the costliest lesson to learn.
The next thing I’d encourage you to do is to gain a vision of a happier you, and then start to formulate the goals required to make your new vision a reality.
Be so careful and aware of all your choices. Each choice will lead you closer to to those goals, or away from them. The easiest thing is to make choices that keep us enmeshed. It’s familiar, and often the path of least resistance. For me, it takes much work and effort to stop in the moment to keep myself accountable for my own goals.
No matter how my heart has agonized and felt torn and shredded (the happy family dream), I now really see that the best thing for my kids is a healthy me. This means an independent me, since my desire for interdependence and mutual respect is not a goal that I can reach alone. It’s a goal that partners with healthy mutual respect and regard reach together. Chasing that was the false road that derailed me for so many years, and also my not even seeing divorce as an option at all. You have to see something as a choice to even consider it, and that took many years for me.
Whatever it takes, I encourage you to work towards independence. Then the day will come when you’re with your husband truly from choice, and nothing else. In that day, you can truly make a choice with the practical feet in place to walk it. My husband consistently sabotaged my efforts over the years, until I reached the point that I’d choose to live on someone’s couch than to be stopped again. He knows now that I’ll push the red nuclear button and just blow it all up in our relationship before I’ll tolerate the kind of sabotage that I experienced in the past.
You have more strength than you know, and if you have a baby, you’re much younger than you know. Believe me on that one, and cherish and use it while you have it. I didn’t see my crash coming years ago, and so I now let the ingloriousness of my life hang out here because I hope that you (and others) can avoid it altogether. It’s humiliating, but in the best way. The truth will set us free.
What you’re living with is unnatural. What you’re required to do is unnatural, and it will feel unnatural to change course in the beginning. Keep praying, keep faith, and keep holding to a new course and direction.
With much hope for you,